And the Pick of the Month for August 2017 is ‘Cowardice’ by Freya Jackson.

This was a nicely balanced competition with votes and comments across the board but Freya Jackson’s supporters just tipped the balance at the end and her ‘Cowardice’ is Pick of the Month for August. This ‘raw’, ‘visceral’ poem disturbed and disoriented but you found beauty in it too. A very worthy winner and one for our time.

Freya is a 21 year old writer from Leeds, Yorkshire (UK). She has been published in, amongst others, Arc Magazine, The Literateur, Hapex and the A3 Review. She was a finalist for the 2015 Princemere Poetry Prize and Highly Commended for the Binnacle Ultra Short Competition 2016. See here also: http://www.pothook.co.uk

She will receive a National Book Tokens gift card for £10.

 

Cowardice

& I did not even as she was screaming, 2 policemen between
her holding her like the edge of a dam edging into her
onto her but that’s not my business makes me think too
much all the times I was – the woman on the wall
was either screaming or struggling but not both I can’t remember
and my mother said he was probably her boyfriend it
was probably fine don’t panic don’t cry no-one was hurting
her but he was the replay in my head was old stereo she
was screaming or she was struggling but not both I remember
why can’t I remember – it didn’t happen to me nothing happened
though all the fear in my head made me fizzy-drink shock
stuck I either screamed or I didn’t or I didn’t it happened two
three times nothing though he scared me kept following me
couldn’t shake him shake myself in the mirror I knocked on every
door but only one woman answered and my brother looked
afterwards like something awful had happened though the police
didn’t knew it was a waste of their time like they wanted to shake
me as I slotted the pound coin into the dip-centre of my palm
you’re a good girl, aren’t you I kept thinking about Mary before the
fall all dirty feet I’ll never let a man touch me wash me like that didn’t
let him either and he didn’t force me – nothing happened sixteen
and I’m playing at pain walking around suburban Sunday screaming
no-one around but me didn’t know if I was capable of it took too
long like learning to play the flute can’t get a sound out it the breathing’s
all wrong then all at once scream scream scream but no-one left their
house a wasted effort still I should have stopped at least it was like she
was falling in slow motion I thought they were going to hit her but they
didn’t & even if they did I wouldn’t have

 

Voters comments include:

Freya’s mastery of structure gives the poem a great sense of tension by exploiting the cyclical nature of gendered violence. Thoughtful and dynamic, her poem evokes both deep feeling and deep contemplation that relates to issues we must all face. A work made beautiful by its intent.

This is punchy, raw and very brave.

A careful & interesting use of words

The pace and sense of fear it conjures with the hopeless cowardice.

The panic and fear and disjointed thoughts really speak to me – it twists a knife in my gut. That kind of confused impression of something large and horrible and all too real.

The tone is just right – disturbing stuff, and the disturbance resonates in the language used. Lack of punctuation helps sense of disorientation.

Stunning poem

It’s just a beautiful poem

Awesome poem!

Freya’s poems are so vivid, I feel like I’m living the words she writes

 

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